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About The Film

With his first book, the #1 international bestseller Hitler’s Willing Executioners (Vintage, 1997) Daniel Jonah Goldhagen – then a professor of political science at Harvard University– forced the world to re-think some of its most deeply-held beliefs about the Holocaust.  Hitler’s Willing Executioners inspired an unprecedented worldwide discussion and debate about the role ordinary Germans played in the annihilation of Europe’s Jews.

A decade later – and more than half a century after the end of World War II – Goldhagen is convinced that the overall phenomenon of genocide is as poorly understood as the Holocaust had once been. How and why do genocides start? Why do the perpetrators kill?  Why has intervention rarely occurred in a timely manner?  These and other thought-provoking questions are explored in a new documentary film, WORSE THAN WAR.

A co-production of WNET.ORG and JTN Productions and funded by The Pershing Square Foundation, The Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, and The Goren Family Foundation, WORSE THAN WAR, based on Goldhagen’s book of the same title, which has been hailed as “magisterial” by the New York Times, “convincing” and “wholly original” by Kirkus, “pathbreaking” by Die Presse, and “masterful” by the Daily Telegraph, is the first documentary to step back and focus on the general phenomenon of genocide – offering viewers profound insights into its dimensions, patterns and causes, and tragic role in politics and human affairs.

“By the most fundamental measure – the number of people killed –the perpetrators of mass murder since the beginning of the twentieth century have taken the lives of more people than have died in military conflict. So genocide is worse than war,” reiterates Goldhagen. “This is a little-known fact that should be a central focus of international politics, because once you know it, the world, international politics, and what we need to do all begin to look substantially different from how they are typically conceived.”

Premiering on PBS during National Holocaust Remembrance Week on April 14 at 9 p.m. (check local listings), WORSE THAN WAR documents Goldhagen’s travels, teachings, and interviews in nine countries around the world, bringing viewers on an unprecedented journey of insight and analysis.  In a film that is highly cinematic and evocative throughout, he speaks with victims, perpetrators, witnesses, politicians, diplomats, historians, humanitarian aid workers, and journalists, all with the purpose of explaining and understanding the critical features of genocide and how to finally stop it.

In Rwanda, perpetrators of genocide speak candidly about their participation in mass murders, and Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama discusses the perpetrators’ willingness, the world’s failure, and how we can prevent other countries from suffering the same fate.  In Guatemala, Goldhagen explores the concept of “overkill” with the country’s leading forensic pathologist, and in an extraordinary interview, he confronts former President José Efraín Ríos Montt, the person in power during the genocide of Maya in the early 1980s.  In Bosnia, he attends the annual commemoration of the massacre at Srebrenica, the worst mass-killing in Europe since World War II, and has a candid discussion with the nation’s president Haris Silajdžić about his efforts to convince U.S. and world leaders to intervene when it became apparent that “ethnic cleansing” was underway.  And in Ukraine, Goldhagen returns with his father Erich (also a scholar of the Holocaust) to the town where Erich was nearly killed during the Holocaust.

Goldhagen also conducts probing and revealing interviews with Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; Francis Deng, UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide; and Clint Williamson, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues.

Directed by the award-winning Mike DeWitt, the film not will only leave viewers changed, it should have a galvanizing effect on the public and, most importantly on, our political leaders.

  • Colin

    Wow! Can’t wait to see this!

  • Kevin

    It’s brave of PBS to take on the subject of mankind’s worst crimes in such a direct and unblinking way. I’ll be tuning in to this challenging program.

  • Kay

    I am notifying family and friends to watch this show.

  • ArmenianGenocide

    Thank you for bringing the attention to a subject that gets too ignored by Politicians. We all need to learn to be screamers for the rest of the world that has no voice. Politics should not win out over ethics and morals.
    The USA never did one thing against the government of Sudan for hacking to death their people (which still goes on today)
    The leaders of Sudan exchanged information regarding Osama Bin Ladin’s time he lived in the Sudan. We turn a blind eye for information we received over 6 years ago? Meanwhile more people die everyday.

    In order for genocide to stop in the future, we must keep acknowledging and correcting the past and present.

    PUT AN END TO GENOCIDE.

  • africanheart

    I am anxious to see this documentary. I have become a very vocal advocate of Rwanda and her incredible people since visiting this amazing country last year at this time. I just sent an email to one of my many dear friends in Rwanda that this documentary was going to be on television tonight. Many of my new friends there are reporters, writers and educators so they will be very anxious to get my impression of this documentary. This year is the 16th anniversary of the genocide and it is an extremely difficult time for those poor souls. Please take time to remember the victims who lost their lives in the many world-wide genocides and the survivors left behind to rebuild their lives and their war-torn countries.

  • bluestorm

    Prof. Goldhagen has a very strange idea about having an international intervention force that would attack any ‘eliminationist’ leader. The problems with this idea seem obvious– what countries would risk their own soldiers in subjective interventions that could easily escalate into broader conflicts. There now decades of history that document the UN’s challenges and problems with peace keeping forces.

    He ignores that the US is the biggest arms supplier in the world and many of the killers that he discusses, such as in Guatemala, were direct recepients of US military aid and training. He fails to note that the US has killed more than one million civilians in Iraq.

    Very problematic and inconsistent analysis of sovereignty, peace keeping forces and militarization of third world populations by the US military industrial complex.

  • david smith

    the fact that there are only 6 comments is interesting. this is a very intense documentary it seems genocides are usually singled out ,this is the first time i recall they being lumped into a collective on the subject mr goldhagen has been researching this for decades it has just been gnawing at me with sporiatic token action.the horrible atrocity’s by ourselves is extremely immoral the more this issue is brought to light the harder it will be to perpetuate it

  • Deanna Svarova

    As the adult child of a Holocaust survivor, I have been watching all these genocides since THE HOLOCAUST, and am horrified at how little is being done by the US, to prevent most of these genocides. Had we bombed just the concentration camps in Germany and Poland, the few camp inmates that would have died, would have been better than the millions that were finally killed by the Nazis, because FDR would not allow our military to bomb those targets. By constantly airing Nazi methodology since 1945 on TV, as well as all the books that have been published, one of the horrible side effects is that we have taught these other dictators/ terrorists how to murder ethnic peoples they want to get rid of. I’m very much in favor of airing the programs on PBS, but why did the US bomb only Milosovich’s country, to stop that genocide, and have looked the other way during all the other genocides? Thanks, Daniel, for writing this book, and for producing this film! Shalom.

  • Arianna Doxis

    (1) At the end of WWII as a member of Student Federalists I wanted world government, and what we got instead was a collection of states guarding their sovereignty. The UN peacekeepers can only do their work when warring groups have reached a peace agreement. The Security Council veto makes sure that China, which fears foreign intervention in its own human rights issues and Tibet, will not support intervention in any sovereign state. Israel is a good example of a country that repeatedly flouts UN resolutions and ignores the Goldstone report regarding human rights. You need to explain that.
    (2) The Serbs would say that their concern with Muslim men arises from the Kosovo insurgency in that era, so they were just protecting internal order (indeed some Americans of Serbian descent will claim that Bosnians are hiding Osama bin Laden!).

  • nancywallace

    I just finished watching this last night. This film could be life-changing. I’m telling everyone I know to watch it, because inevitably , it will happen again.

  • Miriam Felt

    I believe humanity has a dark side and that dark side is easily accessed and encouraged by those who have power of any kind. In the documentary one of the killers told how he felt powerful and invincible listening to the cries and pleas of those who had no meaning to him. I understood that he felt it easy to kill someone who was less than and excluded from the ruling powers. The baser beliefs and values, with foundations in exclusion, superiority, greed, lust and other base human values must be brought to the surface and fanned, in order for genocide to succeed. I want to believe that humans are better than what we are, but this genocide is so close to home. I watch the members of tea parties in the US incite and arouse even more of the existing hatred. I think how easy it would be for a party to manipulate us and incite the hatred and discontent that already resides within us. I think how easy it is for us to exclude those we want to exclude. Today, I am old. I have experienced severe bullying and other noxious traits of humanity. We allow children to bully children to the extent that a child will commit suicide. Teachers, parents and those who could prevent these acts, simply watch and say children will be children. And now, all grown up, we say countries will be countries.

  • Darshan Tolat MD

    Earthellism, the new philosophy based on astrobiology, can stop all future genocides forever. The reason we have so many genocides since WWII, is that no current religion or philosophy can logically explain the genocides of WWII.
    A new framework for Mankind is needed to be able to explain why genocides occur and by knowing what actual causes genocide we can then stop all future genocides. Earthellism is a new philosophy that provides a way to tie all religions and atheism together to fully explain genocides. In brief, those who organize or commit genocide are individuals who are closet atheist who absolutely have no belief in hell and really no belief in God . They think that if their acts of genocide were wrong that God would stop them. They misunderstand the relationship of God to Man by assuming that since God does not stop their acts of genocide that God approves of their actions or that God does not exist. Hitler felt that his genocide was approved by God since God did nothing to stop him. Earthellism for the first time ever now can explain the true relationship of God to Man and to earth. Astrobiology has discovered that the true location of hell is on the surface of earth and that genocide occurs here because closet atheist become atheistic human devils when they commit genocide all because they absolutely do not belief in a hell below us. By locating hell on the surface of this planet, the extreme innocent suffering finally has an explanation in that God cannot prevent these killings due to the laws of physics and the presence of free will. However those who commit genocide do not understand that God’s direct powers here are limited but his indirect powers are unlimited in that innocent suffering is always compensated by God. Therefore when they commit acts of genocide, God cannot stop them and they misinterpret this to mean God approves of their actions. The solution is to treat anyone who has genocidal intentions and then has the power to commit genocide as true atheistic human devils who have earned their own death. Those who commit genocide need to know that they are acting as atheistic human devils who deserve death with no funeral and their ashes to be place in the Dead Sea. Those who are victims of genocide should know that this is their jouney through hell and that God will compensate them for their pain and suffering and those who torture and kill them are true human devils who will never go to heaven and will stay on earth in a hell worse than they can ever imagine.

  • Steve

    I think this documentary is very important and I agree with the proposed solutions; but also think it should have included the African Slave Trade, and the genocide of Native Americans both of which created the model for genocide. It should have also included the current gun violence in America which is just another method for achieving the same result.

  • Matthew

    Genocide is always shown in most media sources to be commited by evil people doing evil things. Unfortunately the truth of it is that Nazi Germany would have been extremely normal looking from a person of todays perspective.

  • Mary

    OH the pain you morons cause when you almost WILLFULLY miss the POINT of this work! Here, hang on just a minute, clear your over-educated, know-it-all minds(which shouldn’t be too hard) and I’ll spoon-feed it to you…

    —————————————————-> WHY ? <————————————————————-

    Why do humans do this sick crap to each other? DUH. I had to laugh when one of you fools actually started pointing at atheists(!) I mean, REALLY?

    See the forest for the trees. And be KIND to each other and realize you ARE me and I AM you, which sickens me sometimes, but it's true. I carry that same potential for hate, violence and missing the point, and you carry within you the potential for altruism, heroic love and generosity. We are a unit, so let's all shape up and make our kids proud, how about that?

  • Madeline

    Steve says that the documentary should have included the African Slave Trade, the genocide of Native Americans,
    and the gun violence in America. Others could easily add to this list of horrible atrocities not covered in Goldhagen’s documentary. Come on, though, how could he possibly have included every evil that has occurred or is still occuring. Let’s give him full credit for the tremendous job he has done to make a film that makes such a powerful statement. Let’s hope the message of this film is heard and remembered.

    I agree completely with Miriam. Humanity has a dark side that must be recognized and controlled. It begins with what children learn from the adults who surround them.

  • Darshan Tolat

    Earthellism responds to the subject of genocide by revealing massive passive genocide by a modern-day Hitler in North Korea. Even in WWII as many people died from passive genocide due to mass starvation and disease as from active genocide. In Iran, a leader there talks about commiting genocide against Israel and is still invited to the UN here in the USA. We must understand that a person can behave as a human devil in that they desire the blood of innocent women and children and have the unbelievable thought that God is on their side. In North Korea we have a atheistic human devil acting as a dictator and daily causing passive genocide on his people in a true hell on earth situation. Earthellism reminds everyone that dictators do not allow vice-dictators to exist and that political assasination in any form including death is the only way to deal with a modern day Hitler. In WWII, even the German army was trying to assasinate Hitler. Finally, those who rule by killing understand that they will only leave by their own death and those who crave for genocide have crossed over to become an atheistic human devils (such as Osama bin Laden) and they create hell on earth. The new philosophy of earthellism incorporates all the lessons of WWII and uses astrobiology to provide a better interpretation of the scriptures and finally explains hell in a way that can be used to solve all future problems that face Mankind.

  • pgmark

    What about the Soviet Union and the criminals there that have yet been put to trial for their crimes.. how many millions did they kill? Why has this yet to be addressed by the European countries? Is it truly a fear of losing the natural resources they export?

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    i know that to be a forensic pathologist, you’d have 2 go to med school…but then you’d also have 2 get an undergrad in forensic science…but does it matter if your forensic science concentrated on the lab analysis part instead of the pathology part? because, there are 2 schools that i’m interested in (i’m a sr in hs) and 1 has a forensic science degree w/ a concentration in forensic pathology while the other has no concentrations, and i don’t know whch is better…so i kinda need help determining which school would be better career-wise

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